By Arofan Gregory, copyright (c) 2020. All rights reserved.
II. Historical Context
A. Plausible Conflicts for the Tabletop
B. The Edwardian Perspective
III. Game Scales and Equipment Needed for Play
IV. Figures, Troop Types, and Units
V. Playing the Game
A. Sequence of Play
B. Using the Game App
VII. Command and Control
X. Charges and Melee
XII. Automatons, Mesmerism, Vehicles, and Flying Craft
D. Flying Craft
E. Martian Walkers and Similar Outlandish Quantities
XIII. Events: Wind and Weather
XV. Patrol Mode for Cooperative and Solo Play
A. Playing the Game in Patrol Mode
B. Non-Player Units and Their Placement
XVI. Design Notes
Viktoria! is a set of miniatures wargames rules for small-unit actions set in Imperial Germany and the territory of its enemies and competitors during the last days of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Their creation was inspired by the excellent line of miniatures produced by Hinterland, featuring Kronprinzessin Viktoria-Luise, daughter of Kaiser Wilhelm and the Colonel of the 2nd Lieb-Husaren. Unlike many sets of rules for the Victorian period, they do not embrace the excess of many "steampunk" games, which have taken the theme of Victorian-era adventure and created from it a form of over-the-top fantasy dressed in Victorian clothing - a grotesquerie. These rules attempt to produce games in the spirit of the adventure fiction of the era, in which, while wonders of science do exist, they are not so overblown as to make a mockery of their subject. Thus, they are based in historical reality, notably that of Western and Central Europe during the period between the Franco-Prussian and Great Wars. While they do provide mechanisms for some of the fictional aspects of the Victorian/Edwardian adventure genre, they can also be used to portray strictly historical actions - they are at base a set of generic wargames rules for small-unit actions during this period.
The game is designed to be played with 25mm/28mm miniatures, and is a fast-play style of game. The figures do not possess the host of varying abilities or skills seen in some popular game systems - not even the personality figures - making it more like a typical miniatures wargame and less like an RPG. In another way, it also differs from most similar rules sets: it requires the use of a computerized device during play, to calculate die rolls and perform other tasks which normally require charts and rulebook look-ups. It is not a typical "computer-assisted" miniatures game, however - it merely employs common technology (a tablet, PC, or smartphone) to speed play (and also to make the game easier to learn). Like most miniatures games, players are still rolling traditional six-sided dice to determine combat outcomes, morale, etc.
While designed for use with Hinterland's miniatures, it does not require them (unless, of course, you wish to field the Kronprinzessin and her Husarinnen, not available from any other producers). Any suitable period miniatures may be used, with the intention that they be individually mounted (crews for artillery and MGs being the possible exception). Provision is made for steam-powered vehicles and automata, but they do not dominate the game, and their capabilities are largely left up to players to determine. There is nothing specific to Western Europe or Prussia about the system in terms of how it can be applied: while designed for European actions, it may also be useful for gaming colonial conflicts, actions set in the New World, and so on.
Unlike some other popular skirmish games, armies - while not large - are not limited to a couple of dozen figures, either. Several dozen figures can be deployed on a side before the system starts to bog down: a typical unit will have 12 to 24 figures. In this way, it resembles a traditional colonials game more than it does some modern steampunk/Victorian sci-fi games.
The Husarinnen prepare to defend a redoubt against the soldiers of the Queen.
The game as described in the main rules is a typical competitive wargame, with one or more players taking command of each side, and fighting a battle. This type of play is what is described in the core rules, and is termed "Competitive Play Mode" (there is a control on the app to set the mode of play).
However, the game also supports solo and cooperative play, where one or more players pit themselves against the game app, which indicates when and where enemy units will appear. This type of game takes advantage of having a device, producing a degree of uncertainty in what exactly the player must face. This version of the game is described below in the section on "Patrol Mode."
After the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/71, Prussia became the leader of a unified Germany - the German Empire - with its major competition, the Austrian Hapsburgs, very much excluded. It is worth noting that some of the 26 German states which had been unified were not enthusiastic about the political situation, harboring grudges against Prussia for her heavy-handed behavior during unification. The states of the North German Confederation from which the Empire was built were generally fully allied with Prussia, but the southern German states and those which had fought as allies of Austria in 1866 were sometimes resentful. France had expected the southern German states to side with her in her war against Prussia, although in the event they did not. Tensions with Hanover - the German house of the British monarchy - remained high following Prussia's invasion in 1866, and affected relations between the British and German Empires. Colonial interests further exacerbated this tension as Germany developed the world's second largest navy, and tried to realize her imperial ambitions globally. France, of course, remained a bitter and resentful enemy.
Prussia's allies included Italy, which had sided with her against Austria in 1866 for self-serving reasons, and the Ottoman Empire, which introduced a problematic element: the Russian Empire. While Russia had for most of the century maintained good relations with Prussia, she also pursued good relations with France. Russia saw itself as the rightful defender of the Greek Orthodox population within the Ottoman territories, causing friction with the Austro-Hungarians over the Balkans and precipitating several wars with Turkey.
The possibilities for plausible "what-if" scenarios concerning a European war during this period are many. The balance of power was fragile, as we see in 1914 when the Great War was sparked by a relatively minor incident in the Balkans. Colonial interests were a source of both collaboration and competition, but showed the new German Empire at her most aggressive, attempting to assert herself as the major European power she had become. When we look at the series of European wars between 1850 and the outbreak of the Great War, we can see that alliances shifted rapidly according to national or imperial interests, causes associated with religion, or ethnic pressures from ruled populations. Wars tended to be limited, out of fear that a general European war would break out, as finally occurred in 1914. The 1848 Revolutions, the Italian Unification, and the Paris Commune of 1871 had shown too that the feelings of subjects could not be ignored with impunity, and that the spectre of revolution was always lurking in the background.
"Invasion literature" - the popular novels in Britain depicting an invasion during the late 19th Century - often featured German-speaking enemies, and France was still perceived to some extent as a traditional enemy by the British. Prussian participation in any of the "Questions" of the era - the Eastern Question over the fate of the Ottoman Empire, the Polish Question, the Schleswig-Holstein Question, and so on - can be good starting points for plausible conflicts to game, even after the German Question had been settled by the establishment of the Empire. Typical opponents for a Prussian force would include the British; the French; the Austrians; the Russians; and Bavarians, Hanoverians, and other middle and southern Germans. Italians could easily become opponents (as they did in WWI), and the Danes are always a possibility. Figures are available for all of these forces: it is really a matter of choosing the armies you wish to raise, and then coming up with a plausible reason for the conflict. There is a wealth of material online to add colour to almost any scenario you devise - the alternative history sites are often a good place to look.
Even without travelling to the Far East, the Americas, Africa, or elsewhere there is plenty of good material for coming up with games based on history (or period literature), simulating conflicts which never happened. Historically, Kronprinzess Viktoria-Luise may have never ventured off the parade ground in her hussar uniform, but she can certainly do so on the gaming table, opening up a door which allows us to explore some of the more colorful conflicts which might have been, but never actually were.
Marauding Prussians deploy in the garden at Lord Balfour's country estate.
When depicting fictional warfare during this era, it is important to bear in mind the experience that Edwardians had of the wonders of science. Things which form an absolutely ordinary apect of our daily life today were known to be simply impossible. A good example of this is the invention of wireless radio communication. In the 1860s, the existence of radio waves had already been posited, but it was not until the 1890s that scientific demonstrations of their use were broadly recognized. By the early 1900s, however, commercial applications were already being developed for long-range communication. To a population in which even educated people had no grounding in science at all, and where the scientists were using terms like "etheric energy" to explain phenomenon they scarcely understood themselves, this was for all intents and purposes magic.
Once magic has been proven to be real, of course, the unenlightened will imagine that almost anything is possible - a major factor in the popularity of science fiction during this era. History has shown, however, that magic does not, in fact, exist. Viktoria! does not provide for the existence of vampires, werewolves, Frankenstein's monster, zombies, wraiths, ghouls, wizards, or other elements of fantasy fiction. These are things which didn't then and do not now actually exist. What it does provide for are the seemingly magical aspects of the scientific discoveries of the era, and the applications of science which seemed plausible to the visionary writers of the day. Flying machines turned out to be real, as did landships. Mesmerism is an actual psychological phenomenon ("Rational Mesmerism" - really just hypnotism; it was not until 1966 that the US military finally concluded that hypnotism had no military application). Robotics became a real science in the fullness of time, even if the anticipated automata of the day were somewhat naive in conception.
It is of course possible that we will experience a zombie plague in our lifetimes, or that Sauron will appear leading an army of orcs and ring-wraiths, introducing an eternal age of slavery and darkness to all humankind. Fine. But that isn't what this game is about. The focus here is what was thought to be possible at the dawn of the modern scientific era, as hitherto "magical" phenomenon were made real. With that, and the known capabilities of weapons developed during the Industrial Revolution, there are wonders enough!
Viktoria! is a game of small-unit actions, depicting combat between detachments of soldiers numbering from a dozen or so up to a hundred soldiers or more. Each inch equals approximately 12 yards, and a turn represents a minute of elapsed time. Terrain as modeled on the tabletop represents exactly what is there - line of sight and similar considerations can be determined in reference to the tabletop without applying any rules other than what can be seen.
As with all miniatures wargames, figures and terrain are required. (See the next section for more information about figures.) Viktoria! is designed to be played with 25mm/28mm miniatures - other scales may be used by adjusting the distances if desired (use centimeters instead of inches for 15mm; double all movement, ranges and other distances for 40mm or 54mm, etc.)
All figures in Viktoria! are individually mounted on round or square bases 25-30mm across (for 25/28mm figures - 15mm figures would use bases half this size). Cavalry bases will be twice as deep as those used for figures on foot. The exact size of bases is unimportant, and multiple-figure bases may be used if absolutely necessary (mark off dead figures as required). For crewed weapons such as machineguns and artillery pieces, crew may be mounted on the same base as their weapon (again, dead figures should be marked).
Any miniatures designed to depict the wars in Europe following the conflict in 1866 may be used, up through the beginning of WWI in 1914. Austrians, Prussians, Hanoverians, French, and British troops (in home service helmets - and even some cavalry from the Crimean War) may be used. Russians for the Russo-Japanese War (or the Boxer Rebellion) will be suitable. Some early WWI figures also fit the bill (Belgians, French, Austrians, British, etc.) Some research into the appropriate uniforms may be required, but there are many sources for uniform information for the period (www.uniformology.com is a good place to start).
Figures will be given a quality rating of "Civilian," "Conscript," "Soldier," "Veteran," or "Officer"/"Character"/"Elite". Civilians are individuals with little or no training in the arts of war. Conscripts are soldiers with no experience and little skill. Soldiers are trained military men/women who are competent. Veterans are highly-trained soldiers or those with battle experience, and will include most guards formations. Elite soldiers are highly-trained, experienced soldiers of exceptional quality. (This category will include most character figures and officers, although these may be given a lower rating by scenario as desired).
Some soldiers will have exceptional skills. Those who are expert shots will be deemed "sharpshooters" (often a small percentage of light infantry formations such as British riflemen, Germanic jagers or French chasseurs-a-pied). Figures trained as medics will be allowed to perform healing actions on wounded figures. Some figures may be allowed to perform acts of mesmerism (cult leaders and such). Signals units equipped with heliographs, radios, and similar will be able to call for supporting fire. Musicians and standard bearers can have an influence on unit morale and (for musicians) in communicating commands in the field. These skills/figures should be assigned by scenario.
Sir Malcolm orders the Guards forward to "put those upstart Boche women back in their place - on t'other side of the Channel!"
Troop types define what weapons, training, and equipment different figures will have. There are several different classes: infantry will generally be armed with rifles (officers may carry sword and pistol instead). Cavalry will be mounted (both mounted and dismounted figures should be provided) - they will be armed with swords and pistols, and may also have lances and/or carbines, depending on their type. (It was very common for all types of cavalry to have some portion of troops armed with the lance during this era, and most cavalry was equipped with carbines or rifles.) Machinegun crew will often only carry pistols, although they may also have rifles. The same is true for artillerists. Headquarters troops may be variously equipped, including those with heliographs and/or field telephones. Such equipment often requires a team of figures, which may be mounted singly or together on a single base (with casualties marked). Field medics will often be either unarmed or equipped only with sidearms (sword and/or pistol), but will have the skills to heal the wounded.
Historically, troops types included line infantry, guards, and light infantry formations, light, medium, and heavy cavalry, horse and foot artillery, and machine guns attached to either infantry or cavalry formations. Line infantry were regular infantry, and were distinguished from guards only by the heightened elan of the latter formations, often accompanied by distinctive uniforms. Light infantry were expected to perform skirmishing and scouting functions, and were sometimes given a shorter version of the rifle (a carbine). Light infantry formations included Prussian and Austrian jager, British riflemen, and French zouaves, turcos, and chasseurs a pied.
Light cavalry were expected to perform scouting and skirmishing functions, and included hussars, chasseurs, light dragoons, and similar types. Medium cavalry were generally dragoons. Both of these categories of cavalry would carry long firearms (carbines) and not just pistols. Heavy cavalry included cuirassier, heavy dragoons, reiters, and other types, sometimes equipped with breastplates (although less and less) and carrying only sword and pistols. Their role was to charge en mass on the battlefield. There were also different types of lancer units, including uhlans and cossacks. These troops were tasked with charging en masse, and were equipped with lance, sword, and pistol, but in other ways (lighter, faster horses) acted as light cavalry. During this period. almost all cavalry was equipped with a long firearm and equipped for dismounted service as the philosophy of mounted warfare started to change. It was also the case in many armies (German, British) that all types of mounted troops sometimes carried the lance, and were trained in it use.
The major difference between horse artillery and foot artillery was in the way in which the crews were expected to maneuver in battle, with horse artillerists all riding into battle on horses. Sometimes their artillery pieces were also lighter in weight. Machine guns were sometimes also mounted for use in "horse" configurations when attached to cavalry units, but as the guns became more portable this ceased to be relevant. Machine gun units would typically match whatever unit they accompanied. Although sometimes organized into their own units, machineguns were no longer seen as a part of the artillery forces, and in battle were attached to other formations as part of the firing line.
Figures are organized into units. Units consist of one or more figures, one of which must be an officer, character, or NCO, and one of whom may be a musician. Typically, there will be 12 to 24 figures of a single type in an infantry unit, and 6-12 cavalry figures of a single type. Crewed weapons act as individual units, and have their weapon and 3 to 5 crewmen, one of whom would generally be an NCO or officer. This is not always the case: figures are often attached to units of other types, and historically - as we see in the Prussian army of 1870 - it is common for cavalry and infantry to be combined into single units for picket duty and scouting.
Units are important in the game because they act together and will remain together as a group on the battlefield. If a group contains more than one NCO/officer figure, it is possible to split the group into two. It is also possible that units suffering heavy casualties may merge. When a unit must check morale, it will pass or fail as a group, and for this reason having larger units lead by officers is an advantage.
A rare period photograph: Viktoria-Luise and a handful of her Husarinnen hold off the assault. (From the archives of theImaginary London Times.)
Note that this description of the rules assumes that players are using the "Competitive Play Mode" - for cooperative or solo play using the "Patrol Mode," see the section below for modifications to the rules.
Once the battlefield has been set up and player forces deployed according to the scenario, the game is conducted in a series of turns:
If weather events are wanted, click the Event button and adjust wind direction, speed, and weather as appropriate. Check flying craft for damage and adjust altitude and other effects of damage/destruction. This is done at the start of each turn.
This sequence is repeated until all figures have made an action, and then it is a new turn.
If desired, players may dice for initiative at the start of the first turn, and then one side makes all of its actions first, followed by the other side. The same sequence can be used for the entire game, or initiative can be re-rolled for each turn. These approaches can be good mechanisms to use for larger, multi-player games: the specific mechanism to be used should be clarified before play starts.
Units may merge and split during play, so long as every unit has a leader among its ranks (an officer, character, or NCO). Splitting and merging may only be done when an initiative is used on the figures concerned. When a unit splits into two or more units, the splitting takes place, and one of the resulting sub-units will take the initiative and make actions. Other sub-units must now wait for their own initiative. When merging, the unit to be joined into another must use an initiative to do so, and be within 3 inches of the unit it is joining. The entire new unit may then make an action, so long as the unit being joined has not already acted during the turn. If they have, only the joining figures are allowed to make an action (joining their fellows), and the combined unit is done for the turn.
The Viktoria! game app replaces the charts, cards, and rules which in a purely paper-and-dice game would be found in the rulebook. It functions as a primary reference to consult during play when looking up the scores needed for various types of die rolls, and for similar mechanisms such as determing deviation for ranged artillery fire. As much as possible, the experience of play is the same as with any other tabletop miniatures game. The rules in this guide are those which govern game play - the app, while necessary, is not the complete game in itself.
It should be noted that, unless stated otherwise, all die rolls are made with a single six-sided die (morale checks and some other actions require two dice).
The app does not record data on the status of any units or figures, nor does it require any networking between different devices. It functions purely as a calculator. Because of this, as many instances of the app may be used during the play of a single game as desired. It may be used by every player, or it may be used only by the game master(s). This is up to the players to decide.
For any given tabletop action requiring calculation, a number of the fields in the app will be required. These are detailed on a per-action basis in the Actions section below. Any fields not mentioned there do not need to be used when making that action. If incorrect information is supplied to the app, then it should be corrected and the calculation performed again. (Whether a re-roll on the player's part is allowed is left up to the players to decide.)
When using the app, the Actor field is always the one who is performing the action, or making the test or check. The target is the one being acted upon - other fields are descriptive of (usually) the Actor, unless they specify (or obviously apply to) the Target. Thus, for example, when firing at another figure the Cover field describes the Target's condition, not the cover from which the Actor is firing.
The following list of actions describes what each action represents and specifies whether it is a group action or an individual one, and which fields are relevant on the games interface when taking that action (fields not mentioned need not be specified - their settings do not matter). Group actions may be made at one time by one or more figures in a unit or sub-unit, using a single die roll. In some cases, the group will be the entire unit, as in the case of morale checks. Individual actions are those which require a separate die roll for each figure (even though needed scores will only need to be looked up once for all figures with the exact same settings in all relevant fields).
When an action is taken by a group, a single roll is made for that group and all figures in the group are subject to the same outcome. For individual actions, each figure rolls for the outcome separately. In general, combat actions are individual, and movement actions are done in groups.
Each figure in a unit or sub-unit using an initiative will be allowed to make only a single action, except in the case of charges (see below) and moving fire. No figure may make more than a single action in any given turn, the exception being tests/checks (morale, MG fire, blasts, out-of-command, hypnotism. etc.). In some cases, the actions available to a figure may be restricted by the command control status of the unit (actions are limited for units which are out-of-command - see below). Other actions are prohibited or allowed based on type of figure or skills, as provided by the scenario.
Recover/Stand/Rally/Load:This action is used by figures which need to recover (an exceptional activity used by Martian Walkers and others by scenario), have a status of Wavering after failing a morale check and need to rally, or who are using weapons requiring load actions (MGs and artillery when insufficiently crewed). None of these actions requires a roll (or the use of the interface) other than Rally, but the option is provided for informational purposes. When rallying, the Actor field is the only one which is required - the action is always performed by the unit as a group, and involves all figures. General with Unit, Musician with Unit, and Colours with Unit check-boxes should be used as applicable. When a musician figure is playing, this should be indicated by the player - it may count as a Stand action (alternately it may be an Advance action if the musician moves while playing, which is allowed).
Advance:This is normal, upright movement in any direction or combination of directions. It may be performed by a group of figures. This action may be combined with a fire action, but the fire will be performed separately and individually as moving fire. The fields which must be filled out for an Advance action are the Actor field, and the Actor Mounted check-box. When a musician figure is playing, this should be indicated by the player - it may count as an Advance action (alternately it may be a Stand action if the musician does not move; musicians may not play while running/galloping or crawling).
Run/Gallop:This is rapid, upright movement (running on foot, galloping if mounted) in any direction or combination of directions. Fire is not permitted when running or galloping. It may be performed by a group of figures. The fields which must be filled out are the Actor field, and the Actor Mounted check-box.
Charge:Charges represent the determined attack of a group of soldiers intent on coming into hand-to-hand combat. The charge itself is made as a group, but it triggers an immediate series of actions which will be made separately, some of which are individual actions (See Charges and Melee, below). The Actor field is required, as is the Actor is Mounted check-box. (Different fields are required for subsequent actions, as appropriate to each action performed.)
Crawl/Take Cover:This action represents slow movement in a prone position, or taking cover in otherwise open terrain (figures automatically take cover when in soft or hard cover or fortifications). Mounted figures will dismount before performing a crawl move (this does not require a separate action). Fire (as moving fire) may be performed while crawling. This action may be performed by a group, and requires only that the Actor field is used.
Fire Pistol:Pistol fire is short-ranged (9 inches max). This action is always performed as an individual action, requiring the Actor, Target, Cover, and Range fields are specified, and the check-boxes for Actor/Target Mounted and Sharpshooter are checked if applicable.
Fire Carbine:Carbines (similar to rifles, but with a shorter barrel, often used by mounted troops and sometimes light infantry) have a range of up to 36 inches. This action is always performed as an individual action, requiring the Actor, Target, Cover, and Range fields are specified, and the check-boxes for Actor/Target Mounted and Sharpshooter checked if applicable.
Fire Rifle:Rifles are long-ranged weapons, and have no practical maximum range on the tabletop. This action is always performed as an individual action, requiring the Actor, Target, Cover, and Range fields are specified, and the check-boxes for Actor/Target Mounted and Sharpshooter are checked if applicable.
Fire MG:MG fire is long-ranged, and has no practical upper range limit for tabletop purposes. It is always performed by an individual - the area covered by MG fire must be specified (intensive fire over 45 degrees, or broader fire over 90 - this may be affected by Wound status and crew size - see below). All eligible figures within the arc of fire must test versus MG fire (see action below). Only the Action field is needed for this action - everything else is accounted for in the test versus fire.
Fire Artillery:At least two crew members must make this as a group action (one individual can load and fire separately if necessary, but these will be separate action, requiring two actions for each firing). The range field must be set for this action.
Throw Bomb:This is always made as an individual action, and is restricted to those figures carrying bombs as specified by scenario. A bomb may be thrown in any direction, up to 6 inches. The Actor field must be specified.
Attack with Sword:This action is an individual action, involving attacking an enemy in combat contact with a sword or similar personal weapon. It requires the Actor, Target, and Cover (any cover enjoyed by the target) fields to be completed, and the check-boxes for Actor/Target Mounted, and Attacker Charging to be filled as applicable.
Attack with Lance:This action is an individual action, involving attacking an enemy in combat contact with a lance from horseback. It requires the Actor, Target, and Cover (any cover enjoyed by the target) fields to be completed, and the check-boxes for Actor/Target Mounted and Attacker Charging to be filled as applicable.
Attack with Bayonet:This action is an individual action, involving attacking an enemy in combat contact with a bayonet (or spear). It requires the Actor, Target, and Cover (any cover enjoyed by the target) fields to be completed, and the check-boxes for Actor/Target Mounted, and Attacker Charging to be filled as applicable.
Attack with Dagger/Club/Improvised Weapon:This action is an individual action, involving attacking an enemy in combat contact with a short-bladed weapon such as a dagger, or an improvised club (or similar). It requires the Actor, Target, and Cover (any cover enjoyed by the target) fields to be completed, and the check-boxes for Actor/target Mounted and Attacker Charging to be filled as applicable.
Hypnotic/Mesmeric Attack:This action is always made by individual figures granted the ability to do so by scenario. Mesmerism is most effective at close range, with an absolute maximum range of 9 inches. Actor, Target, and Range fields must be specified. Note that once mesmerized, figures may attempt to resist it before making their usual action for the turn (see below).
Heal/Bind Wounds:This is an individual action made by those figures deemed to have the ability by scenario (generally a medic or team of medics). It involves moving up to 6 inches (base movement) into contact with a wounded figure not currently in base-to-base contact with an enemy, and then attempting to heal or mitigate the effects of whatever wounds that figure has. If successful, the figure is no longer considered wounded for game purposes. Multiple attempts to heal any given figure may be made, even within a single turn. The Actor field must be specified.
Check Morale:Morale checks are group actions made to determine if troops will panic or otherwise suffer a failure of will (see Morale, below). They are always performed by entire units/subunits. The Actor field mist be specified, and the General, Musician, and Colours check-boxes should be filled in as appropriate. Morale checks do not use a unit's action for the turn.
Test Versus MG:All figures affected by the firing of an MG must immediately test against harm, whether the firer is friend of foe. This action is always made by each individual figure. The Actor (the figure being tested), Cover, and Range fields must be filled out, and the check-box for Actor Mounted should be filled if applicable. Tests against an MG do not use a figure's action for the turn.
Test Versus Blast:Figures caught within the blast radius of artillery, bombs, or other explosions must use this action, regardless of whether the explosion was caused by friend or foe. This is an individual action which does not count as an action for the turn on the part of the testing figure. The Actor and Cover fields must be specified, and the Actor Mounted check-box used if applicable.
Test for Out-of-Command:Any unit more than 18 inches from a commanding general/leader must make this test before acting, unless otherwise specified by scenario (some units are self-commanding). This is done using the quality rating of the leader (officer or NCO) of the unit. The Actor and Range fields must be specified.
Test Versus Mesmerism:This is an individual action made when a figure has been mesmerized, and before it makes its action for the turn. It represents the re-assertion of the figure's will in the face of mind control/hypnotic suggestion. It does not use the figure's action, but will determine whether the figure is run by the mesmerizing player or not. Once broken (that is, if the test is successful) the figure is no longer mesmerized (until again successfully subjected to a mesmerism attack). The Actor field must be used for the figure making the test.
Call for Supporting Fire:Figures equipped with a communications device (typically a field telephone/wireless radio, a heliograph, or a semaphore) may call in support fire. Often, as for a heliograph, this communication will require a team of two figures (specify by scenario). This is an action made by the required team (one or two figures, generally), and requires no fields to be specified, communications being dependent on non-player-controlled factors.
The enemy have taken full control of the manor house - Lord Balfour won't have an easy time getting it back!
Units which are more than 18 inches from their force's commanding general must test when given an initiative. This may restrict the actions they are allowed to take if they fail the needed roll. This reflects the failure of communications on the battlefield. By scenario, units may be given "self-commanding" status, in which case they are not required to make rolls when outside command radius before acting.
When a command control roll is failed, the unit in question will use its actions for the turn, but is limited in what actions its figures can make. The only movement allowed will be to assume a prone position ("Take Cover"). Other voluntary actions may include performing fire on (or throwing bombs at) an enemy, fighting defensively if charged or in melee (including all permitted reactions), or performing a "Recover/Stand/Rally/Load". Medics may still bind wounds if the wounded to be tended are within 6 inches. No other voluntary actions are permitted (tests and other involuntary actions are allowed).
Units must always contain at least one officer, character, or NCO who is qualified to lead them. If all such figures are killed, an NCO will be promoted from the ranks to lead the unit. Note that such field promotions are expressly forbidden for the purposes of splitting a single unit into two sub-units.
If a musician is within command radius, they may be ordered to make a "Play" action which will include in the command radius of the leader issuing the order any units within 24 inches of the musicians's location for the remainder of the turn.
Movement is performed using a base movement rate generated by rolling a die and dividing by 2, to get a number from 1 to 3, and adding this to the number provided by the game interface to produce a distance in inches: this is expressed as "X plus 1-3 (1d3) inches", where X is a number based on the type of movement and the quality and condition of the actor. The base number is adjusted by the terrain through which the figures are moving. In some cases, terrain will affect the movement distances. If a figure spends all or a portion of their movement in rough terrain, and a portion in the open, then each inch (or fraction) moved in the rough will be adjusted by a factor which will depend on whether the figure is on foot or not, as shown in the following table:
|Type of Movement||Adjustment/Cost|
|On Foot - Rough||Half speed|
|Mounted - Rough||Quarter speed|
|Transport (Mounted or Not) - Rough||Quarter speed|
|All Figures - Linear Obstacles||Subtract 1 inch from base movement|
Transport and limbered artillery will go double speed along roads.
Some types of terrain are impassable to some troops types (an infantryman can move through a window - a linear obstacle - while a mounted cavalryman or a limbered artillery piece would find it impassable). Common sense should be employed when moving figures - the referee's should be used when the players' is absent. Roads provide the benefit of nullifying the rough terrain through which they pass, but do not confer a movement benefit in and of themselves.
Figures may choose to use less than their full movement. Movement may be in any direction or combination of directions, up to the specified (and adjusted) distances. Figures may never move through other figures, or come into contact with enemy figures other than by making a Charge action or by being charged. Figures must at all times be within 3 inches of another figure in their unit, and must attempt to remain this way, moving as soon as possible to correct the situation if casualties or other events create a distance larger than 3 inches.
Figures moving in cover (woods, etc.) are assumed to take advantage of that cover. The exception is figures who are ?n the open, where they must explicitly crawl in order to gain the benefit of being "down."
Some activities qualify as movement but do not involve crossing the tabletop. Mounted figures may dismount at any point as part of their movement. Dismounted figures may remount at any point during their movement. The exception to remounting and dismounting is that you may not perform this activity during a Charge action. Artillery may choose to limber or unlimber instead of using their movement for the turn. Unlimbered guns may load and fire, but cannot move other than to adjust their facing in place. Limbered guns cannot fire or load. To move or limber/unlimber with a gun is a group action involving all figures in the unit, and requires a full Move action to perform. Limbered horse artillery moves as if mounted - foot artillery moves on foot (like infantry).
Generally speaking, terrain is considered to be as it is modelled on the tabletop. Any non-obvious aspects of the terrain (whether a river is fordable, for example) should be decided and agreed before play starts. Any impassable terrain should be identified, and terrain which is considered steep or rough should be identified, as should linear obstacles. If a judgement call is needed, the referee is the final arbiter of such matters.
"Forward, Yeomanry!" Lord Balfour orders the Hampshire Carabineers to the attack, supported by a gun of the Royal Field Artillery.
There are several types of fire: personal weapons, MGs, on-board artillery, off-board artillery, and throwing bombs.
Personal weapons (pistols, rifles, and carbines) may only be fired by figures which have an unobstructed line of sight to the target figure, judged by examining the tabletop. If an unobstructed line exists between the firing figure and the target figure, with range measured from base to base, fire is possible. Note that you may not fire through gaps between figures of less than 1/2 inch. Figures in combat contact with friendly figures are not legitimate targets, nor may they fire while engaged in melee.
To fire, determine the number needed to hit as provided by the game app. Each firing figure will roll separately (and may have different chances to hit if any of the values in app fields or the check-boxes have changed). Roll for a hit. In most cases, a roll of a 6 will allow for a second roll to determine critical hits. A second roll of a 6 will indicate that the target is dead (a lucky shot - or an extremely skilled one). Otherwise, the target figure, if hit, will be allowed to roll a saving throw, as shown by the app when it provides the chances to hit. Wounded firers and targets, and the status of a firer as moving or unmoving are all shown by the app, as figures in a single firing unit may be moving and/or wounded while acting. The appropriate values shown by the app should be used.
A figure which receives a mere scratch is unaffected, and continues normally. A wounded figure is marked as such, and will suffer the effects of being wounded (easier to hit, worse at firing, moving, and combat). A figure which is killed is removed from play, and may cause its unit to make a morale check.
Wounded figures may be ordered out of line if players so choose. They will automatically proceed to the rear during their unit's action, and are not considered losses for morale purposes. The total number of the figures in the unit is instead reduced, and number of killed subtracted from that new total. Wounded figures who have had their wounds bound may return to their units, reversing the process (they will act at the same time as the rest of their unit).
Moving fire is allowed - figures performing a moving fire may fire at any point during their move. If the target figure is prone/crawling, running/galloping, or is in soft or hard cover or fortifications, this must be indicated. Soft cover is cover which conceals but does not stop bullets (trees, underbrush, hedges, etc.). Hard cover will stop bullets, but is not specifically designed and constructed for this purpose (stone walls, boulders, etc.). Fortifications are works expressly designed to provide protection from fire (ramparts, earthworks, etc.). In general, figures are assumed to take advantage of the available cover as much as possible, so if any part of a figure's base in behind cover, the figure is considered protected by it. A target may be seen up to 2 inches into or through foliage, unless it is very dense (hedges). Note that some cover (such as hasty trenches) provides hard cover but does not qualify as fortification - fortifications are prepared military works.
Eligible targets for fire include humans, but do not include such things as equipment and vehicles. When firing at artillery or transport equipment with personal weapons, you may not target the gun/equipment - only the gunners or crew, which may be provided protection by the vehicle if passengers. When firing at wounded figures, generals, etc., this must be specifically stated. Players should make rolls separately at these targets, or any available unwounded figures will assume to have been targeted.
Machineguns are treated in Viktoria! as area-fire weapons, used primarily to spray an area with bullets, rather than for sniping. To fire an MG, the arc of fire, centered on the barrel of the MG, must be indicated. The act of fire allows for facing changes by the firer (as possible by the mounting of the MG - field mounts can be shifted to point in any direction - those mounted on vehicles may be restricted). The width of the arc of fire depends on the choice of the firer and the number of crew. When crewed by a single figure, an MG may either fire a single 45-degree arc, a double 45-degree arc, or a single 90-degree arc, but if the double 45-degree arc or the 90-degree arc are chosen, then the crew figure must spend an action re-loading before the MG may fire again. If there are two or more figures in the crew, the loading operation is assumed to be on-going, and the MG may fire continuously.
If all crew figures are wounded, the arc of fire is reduced to a single 45-degree arc instead of the usual 90-degree arc, and fire may not be concentrated into a smaller arc.
Machineguns do not require unlimbering like heavier artillery, but they may not perform normal moving fire like personal firearms. In a turn during which the crew of an MG moved, it may not fire. (Note that MG crews may man their weapons from a prone position, as may artillery crews.) Moving fire for a machinegun occurs when the machinegun and crew are mounted in or on a moving platflorm of some type (a train car, wagon, boat, etc.). Machineguns may change their direction of fire as they wish as part of their Fire action, unless restricted by a vehicle mounting or similar.
For each selected arc, every figure not completely concealed behind impenetrable terrain (such as hills) - friend or foe - must make a test versus MG. If a figure is within a double arc, they must test twice. Factors such as range, cover, moving fire, etc. are taken into account when the target figures are testing, rather than when the MG is being fired, as they may be different for different targets. Note that indirect MG fire was a development realized during the course of WWI, and thus is not allowed for the purposes of this game.
On-board artillery in Viktoria! is restricted to fields guns (German 77mm, Krupp 9- and 10-cm guns, British 12-, 13- and 18-pounders, French 75mm, etc.) Because of the very short ranges depicted on the tabletop (from an artillery perspective) the differences between these guns are not depicted - they all perform in the same manner. Heavy artillery is always off-board for game purposes (see below). Artillery must be limbered to move, and unlimbered to fire. Limbering and unlimbering require an Advance action, during which only facing changes are allowed - the gun may not perform other movement. Firing guns are allowed to shift facing before firing, as are unlimbered guns performing any movement action, so long as the gun mounts permit it.
To fire, a gun must have at least two crewmen. The app is used: first, an intended fall of shot is indicated, which must be within LOS of the firing gun crew. Firing over the heads of intervening troops is allowed at targets at least 6 inches away. There may be deviation per the app - the point of impact should be shifted. All figures within 3 inches of this point must test versus blast, whether friend or foe. Note that equipment such as artillery pieces, MGs, wagons, and other vehicles must also test (as Transport) versus blast when within the blast radius.
Off-board artillery includes not only field guns firing at longer ranges, but also heavier guns. Scenarios should specify which is intended. Off-board artillery requires the presence of a spotter, equipped with a wireless set, a heliograph, or other communications device. They may call in supporting artillery fire from off-board on any target within their LOS. This is done by rolling two dice as indicated by the app. When artillery support fire does arrive, it is performed like on-board artillery fire, but always using the longest range bracket. The blast radius for heavy artillery is increased to 6 inches.
Note that for each successive turn during which support fire is called down upon the same point on the battlefield, the roll is increased by a cumulative modifier of a single pip. Thus, after two previous turns of calling fire down upon a single target, the roll will benefit from a +2 to the roll. Due to the tenuous nature of battlefield communications during this era, such requests will often fail, and sometimes some factor outside the player's control (failure on the far end) will mean that the ability to perform off-board fire is temporarily lost, making all the registering fire (the positive cumulative modifiers from earlier failed attempts) to be ignored. (Fire resets to a 0 modifier.)
Throwing bombs is not firing nor artillery per se, but is included as a significant battlefield activity during this period. Bombs include petrol bombs and ad-hoc dynamite bombs, but also grenades in their more modern sense (the term "bombs" was used for these during this period and throughout WWI). To throw a bomb, use the app to select a target point, and then roll as instructed by the app for any deviation. All figures within 2 inches of the adjusted point of impact must test versus blast. Bombs may be thrown over such terrain as walls, even if not within LOS - players are encouraged to use their judgement when permitting such use.
Charges involve not only a type of movement, but also an attack, and potentially involve a reaction on the part of the figure who is the target of the charge. Both Charge actions and subsequent reactions may be made by groups if appropriate - the reacting group may consist of any figures in the unit against whom charges have been declared. You may only charge an enemy figure which you can see - there must be an unobstructed line of sight as for firing. Mounting and dismounting are not allowed during charge movement, nor is advancing fire.
Charges are conducted as a series of actions, which will consume the actions of both the charging and charged figure for the turn unless the charge fails to reach its target (in which case only the charging figures' actions are used). The following sequence of actions are taken when a charge is declared:
Reaction moves may include a movement action (Crawl, Run/Gallop, or Advance) away from the charging figures in attempt to avoid combat contact. Charging figures may use up to their total initial movement allowance to pursue figures making a flight move.
Defensive fire against charging figures will be made at a predetermined distance based on the quality of the firing figures. Officers, Characters, and Elite figures will fire at the shortest range bracket. Veterans will fire at a range equal to half the distance moved by their charging targets. All other figures will fire at the charging figures at the range at which they started the charge.
Un-wavering cavalry in open terrain may make a counter-charge as a reaction to a charge. Counter-charges are made by moving the charging figures half the way to their targets. The opponents will then meet at the halfway point of the remaining distance. Counter-charges will not involve reaction moves on the part of figures from the unit which initiated the charge. Counter-charging units get the benefit of the Attacker is Charging modifier when they make attacks.
Charging and counter-charging figures do not get the benefit of cover when charging, as they are exposing themselves to the enemy's fire. Defending units will get the benefit of cover from charging unit's attacks, as will all figures in an on-going melee.
It should be noted that Transport and Artillery, when acting as the targets for charges, involve charges made against the crew and drivers, rather than the artillery piece or the transport wagon, animals, etc. Thus, reaction moves will involve only these figures: guns, wagons, draught animals, etc. will be abandoned.
Ongoing Melee:In cases where a melee continues into the next turn, units not already involved may charge into it. They will select a valid enemy unit and conduct a charge as normal, but the target - already being tied up in melee - cannot make any type of voluntary reaction to the charge. If morale checks are passed, the charging unit will make attacks as normal. At that point, all other figures from all units, friend and foe, who have not already made their attacks will do so simultaneously. Thus, a figure which is attacked during this part of the melee and killed or wounded will ignore that fact until they have also delivered their attack.
In any ongoing melee, figures who are not in already in contact, but whose units are, may move to make contact with the enemy, up to a distace of a normal Run/Gallop action, but they do not trigger any morale checks or reactions like a normal Charge, as the combat is already ongoing. They simply add their attacks to those of their unit.
On an ongoing melee, the first unit to use an initiative to fight the combat will trigger simultaneous resolution of all attacks to be made by all figures involved in that combat. Following this point, only figures moving or charging into the melee will be resolved during that turn.
The morale system reflects the onset of panic in units which are taking casualties. The morale rules are simple: after any initiative during which any unit has one or more of its figures killed (not merely wounded), it must perform a morale check. Morale checks are performed after the acting unit has made all actions for the initiative (with the exception of morale checks made by charging units from reaction fire - see above), and the results will affect every figure in the unit. The morale check is not a regular action, and does not count as the unit's action(s) for the turn. All units begin play with a Solid status. If they fail a morale check, their status goes to Wavering. A Wavering unit is only allowed to make one of two actions: it may Move, or it may Rally. If a Rally is successful, the unit's status goes back to Solid. If it fails, the unit is removed from play. A Rally does count as the unit's action for the turn.
In checking morale and rallying, units will be evaluated as to strength ("Are half or more of the figures in the unit gone?"). This is determined against the total original number of figures in the unit, unless it has split. If the unit has split out as a subunit, from a larger original unit, the strength of the (sub)unit checking morale is that immediately after the most recent split. If units merge, the number against which they measure their losses is either: (1) the total number of figures in the new, merged unit; or (2) the original strength of either of the merging units at the time that they merged. The highest number is chosen.
Another rare period photograph: Lord Balfour encourages the Hampshire Carabineers to do their utmost. (From the archives of theImaginary London Times.)
The quality of the unit checking morale (the Actor) is determined by the best quality figure in the unit, typically that of an officer or NCO. Transport never checks morale - drivers, guards, and attendants check as soldiers of the appropriate quality, or as Civilians if no quality has been indicated. The transport itself is not affected by the results of morale failure, but is left standing on the table if its attendants are removed for morale failure.
When checking morale, the presence of generals, musicians who are playing (as opposed to making any other action), and the presence of the unit colours can all affect morale in a positive fashion. If a general (or other commanding, overall officer who is not part of the unit) is within 6 inches of any figure in the unit, it counts as having a general with it, as indicated using the appropriate check-box. If a figure carrying the unit colours is within 3 inches of any other figure in the unit, the appropriate check-box is used. If a musician is within 3 inches of any other figure in the unit, and is making a playing action, then the Musician with Unit check box is used.
Note that if a figure carrying the colours is killed by fire or blast, the colours can be immediately picked up and carried by any nearby friendly figure. If killed in melee, however, the colours have been captured by the enemy, to the undying shame of the regiment!
This section addresses those aspects of the game which are mostly a departure into the purely fictional aspects of period literature. It is strongly recommended that such elements be included with a very light hand: the grotesquerie which Hollywood has made of the genre under the "steampunk" label is not something which can be viewed in a positive light by any right-thinking individual. Regardless, such elements were a major feature of period adventure fiction, and thus are supported here. (If you want to skip this section, because your games are of a more historical type, then please feel free to do so!)
This section does not invent a set of such fictional quantities for use in the game - instead, it provides a means for describing their capabilities, and rules for how they function on the tabletop. Whatever decisions players make about them should be guided by their own interpretation of the relevant fiction (or history, in the case of some flying machines, trains, horseless carriages, and similar).
While attempts were made to create military automata (ie, the 1810 trumpeter devised by Frederich Kaufmann in Dresden), none bore fruit until the radio-controlled devices deployed in a very limited fashion during the Great War. The idea that automata could perform military functions, and thus save human lives, was an appealing one. For our game, automata are those uncrewed machines which perform combat actions on their own initiative, typically taking the general form of a human being.
They have three basic characteristics: rate of movement, armor, and weaponry. Rate of movement is either slow or fast, corresponding to the movement of Transport either on foot or mounted. (If really fast automatons are desired, you may apply multiples to either of these two alternatives, providing very fast and extremely fast options by doubling the speeds). Armor should be expressed in terms of "no cover," "soft cover," "hard cover," or "fortifications," corresponding to the values in the Cover field. These are additive: an automaton with a "soft cover" armor rating taking cover in soft cover is classed as in hard cover for play purposes (add a single level to the automaton's armor for soft cover, and two for hard cover - fortifications cannot be improved upon, so simply act as fortifcations). Weaponry will be as determined by the players/referee/scenario: rifles are normal for human-sized automatons; machineguns and/or artillery pieces are typical for larger ones. Remember to specify whether such weapons are permitted to perform moving fire. For the purposes of fire, automata must be given a skill level (Civilian, Conscript, Soldier, Veteran, etc). When automata are the target of fire, they will be similarly rated.
Although one could conceivably argue that charismatic orators with extreme agendas were in fact performing a form of mass hypnosis (think "Hitler"), historically such techniques have never been used on the battlefield. Given the thinking in the 19th and early 20th centuries regarding mesmerism, hypnosis, and related matters, however, it can be a colorful element in an adventure game. Cultists and spiritualist meglomaniacs can be a fun feature in a scenario. The rules here are meant to reflect that.
By scenario, specific figures should be given mesmeric abilities. These function only up to 9 inches, and would require a clear line of sight, presumably using some combination of visual and verbal cues. If mesmerized, the target figure comes under the control of the mesmerising player. Whenever the target figure's unit acts, the action of that specific figure will be dictated by the mesmerist, and may include self-injury, attacks on one's fellows, etc. The action of the controlled figure will always be taken after other non-mesmerized figures in the unit have acted.
Before a mesmerized figure acts, however, they may attempt to break the spell. This is done using a Test versus Mesmerism action. If successful, the figure is no longer mesmerized, and may act normally in that action (the test does not use the figure's action for the turn). Once the mesmerism is broken, the figure will need to be re-mesmerized - they have freed themselves from the hypnosis and will remain that way until subjected to it again.
A mesmerized figure will remain under the control of the mesmerizing player until broken using a test, regardless of whether the controlling figure has mesmerized other figures, or moves out of range, or is killed (the target figure is assumed to be acting on the hypnotic suggestion issued by the mesmerizing player).
During the period covered by these rules, various types of self-propelled wheeled and tracked vehicles came into existence, and it is not implausible that some might be found on the tabletop battlefield (steam tractors were used by both sides in the Second Boer War, for example; the first "production" gasoline-powered automobile came out in the 1880s; and trains were ubiquitous throughout the period). The Transport category in this game refers primarily to horse-drawn wagons, limbers, artillery pieces, and similar equipment. Vehicles are ground transport which move under their own power and have a combat function. Much like automatons, these should be given the characteristics of movement, armor, and weaponry. They will also have another characteristic: payload. Movement will include speed (slow: transport advancing on foot; fast: transport advancing mounted; very fast: twice transport advancing on foot; extremely fast: twice transport advancing mounted). Armor is expressed in terms of cover-equivalence, as for automatons. Weaponry will generally consist of MGs or artillery pieces, and function as for automata. Payload is expressed in number of permitted passengers, and may include information about how many can fire out of the vehicle (and in which directions) with personal weapons.
Vehicles will also have some other potential considerations: for trains, speed is a huge factor, as changes in speed may only increase or decrease by half of that moved in the last turn, or 3 inches, whichever is greater. Vehicles which are not confined to tracks will have to pay for turns, the cost being the equivalent of the distance moved by the front corner of the vehicle when the opposite front corner is held in place and the vehicle pivots around it. Thus, they "wheel" off the frontage of the vehicle model or base. Terrain costs for wheeled vehicles are twice that of figures on foot for movement, but are the same as for foot when the vehicle is tracked (or is a "walker" of some kind).
Boarding or disembarking from a vehicle costs 1 inch of movement. This is done by figures during their action. When the vehicle makes an action, any figures currently on board are brought along, even if this would in some cases seem to give them two actions for the turn (one to board the vehicle, and the other to ride in it). Figures who are passengers on a vehicle do not use their action when the vehicle moves, but may act separately, whether to disembark, to fire weapons, or to make any other reasonable action.
Vehicles may be units unto themselves, or may be grouped into units. Each vehicle is assumed to have a driver integral to the vehicle unless the scenario specifies otherwise. Such integral drivers are not subject to being targeted aside from the vehicle they operate (if separate drivers are used, they may be targeted). The driver has acted when the vehicle makes an action. T?rgeted vehicles will use the same quality rating for being targeted as they do for firing any weapons they may have. (Such ratings will typically reflect the experience of the crew manning the vehicle and weapons.)
Even without looking beyond the historical precedent, the era covered by these rules was the one in which powered flight became a reality. Hot-air balloons had been used as battlefield assets since the 1790s, and were a relatively known quantity as far as flying machines are concerned. The first decade of the 20th century saw many years of experimentation in the form of fixed-wing, powered aircraft - gliders had also been experimented with in the decades preceding powered flight. The first combat use of aeroplanes was in the Italo-Turkish conflict of 1911, although they did not become a serious factor in warfare until the Great War. Powered dirigibles were known from the mid-19th century onwards, first developed using steam engines. While they first saw significant use as bombers during the Great War, they could easily have seen military applications before that time. The fictional application of all these technologies was also in evidence during our period, with visionaries predicting the use of personal airships powered by bicycle peddles, etc. This covers a wide range of craft which could potentially put in a showing on the tabletop.
When dealing with early aircraft, we cannot ignore the realities of air travel: altitude, wind, and weather. Viktoria! provides a set of events which will determine the changes to weather on the battlefield (see the Events section below). Altitude is modeled using a simplified system which makes it easy to determine ranges when firing at a flying craft or its occupants, or when fire is made from them. The lowest level for an aircraft is ground level, followed by levels numbered I, II, III, and so on, each corresponding to a range bracket above ground level, which is added to the tabletop "level" distance to determine range. (While highly artificial and mathematically erroneous, this system does ease game play, and does away with the need for lots of fancy adjustable stands for various flying craft.) Weather effects are described per type of aircraft, as they will affect movement and may, in fact, actively damage or destroy fliers of some types.
Note that Throwing Bombs from flying aircraft is performed using the point on the tabletop directly beneath the flying craft, and measuring six inches from there.
Hot-air balloons will have one significant characteristic: payload. They are of very limited capacity - a modern hot-air balloon typically holds about 4 to 8 people, depending on size, although balloons capable of lifting 30 people do exist. If weapons such as MGs are carried aboard a balloon, they will require the capacity of an entire person - artillery will require the capacity of four people. All fire from a hot-air balloon in the air is considered to be moving fire. They are assumed to have a uniform degree of lift. Their speed is a function of the prevailing winds. They are extremely fragile - punctures to the air bag cause problems, even if they are not immediately fatal. Hot air balloons may rise or descend one altitude level per turn of movement, during which time they will move in the direction of the prevailing winds a distance determined by the chart below:
|Light Airs||Transport Advance on Foot|
|Steady Breeze||Transport Advance Mounted|
|High Winds||2 x Transport Advance Mounted, roll a die: 6 = destroyed, 4/5 = damaged|
|Gale-Force||3 x Transport Advance Mounted, roll a die: 5/6 = destroyed, 3/4 = damaged|
Balloons may of course be tethered in place, even at altitude, in which case they do not move at all. If at altitude, however, they are still subject to damage or destruction from the wind.
A damaged balloon will lose a level of altitude when damaged and at the start of each turn subsequently. It may no longer ascend. A wound result when firing on a balloon equals damage. Two damages inflicted on a balloon will destroy it. When destroyed, the balloon immediately plummets to the ground, and all passengers must make a roll: on a 1/2 they survive unscathed. On a 3-5 they are wounded, and on a 6 they are killed. Add a pip to this die roll for each level of altitude the balloon has at the time it is destroyed.
Balloons make excellent targets: they are always classed as "Civilians" when targeted, and when damaged are considered Wounded. They do, however, get to make saving throws. Fire at their occupants is separate from fire at the balloon itself - any targets in a balloon moving at a steady breeze or better are considered to be running/galloping.
Dirigibles are by definition steerable balloons, and may have a rigid outer skin or not. Some function by using the properties of lighter-than-air gas, rather than hot air. They tend to be slow, but historically were larger than hot-air balloons. The most famous, of course, are the Zeppelins, which could carry 70 passengers or more on long-distance voyages. Other 19th century dirigibles were designed for individual use, or carried smaller crews (in the early 1870s Dupuy de Lomes designed an airship powered by a hand-cranked propeller, with 8 men providing the propulsion, for use in the Franco-Prussian War.) Such models as the Zeppelins are likely to be too large to fit onto the ordinary wargames table, however, so it is likely that smaller flying craft of this type will be used.
Regardless of size, dirigibles tend to be slow - the Zeppelins could do almost 80 mph, but tended to cruise at around 45 mph. Many other dirigibles were considerably slower, and the attitude of the wind had a huge impact on speed. For game purposes, they will ascend and descend up to two altitude levels per move, and move exactly like balloons (including movement with the wind) with the exception that they may additionally move 2 times Transport Advance Mounted in any direction desired. (This means they get blown around a lot in high winds).
Because they are often filled with flammable gasses, and even the rigid kind had no armor protection to speak of, dirigibles make extremely vulnerable targets. Thus, for firing and being the targets of fire, dirigibles function exactly like hot-air balloons unless somehow provided with a hardened shell (specify the quality level of the target by scenario - "Conscript," "Soldier," "Veteran," etc.).
Fixed-wing aircraft were first developed during the period covered by these rules, and were soon brought to a state of perfection which allowed them to assume a significant military role in the Great War. Aeroplanes move much more quickly than other flying craft in this game, requiring a speed of more than 30 mph to become airborne, and often having maximum speeds in excess of 100 mph. (Compared to propeller-driven planes during WWII, this is slow, being less than half as fast, but compared to a dirigible, for example, it is quick indeed.) This means that the ground scale is somewhat inappropriate to assign them a movement rate per turn (it would be measured in hundreds of inches). Because of this, aeroplanes are permitted - once off the ground - to move as far as they wish, including onto and off of the table. The act of taking off will require a turn spent trundling down a runway of at least 24 inches in length, and will involve a climb of no more than 3 levels of altitude. However, aside from leaving the table, the aeroplane may be positioned anywhere on the table in the turn it lifts off. Landing requires a similar length of open runway or airfield, and is only permitted by aeroplanes which are on-table when the landing is performed.
Aeroplanes may not fire (or throw bombs) or be fired at when off-table. They are unarmored, providing no cover benefits, but are always considered to be Running/Galloping when in flight as targets. Fire from a plane is moving fire, including its integral MGs, if any. Both fire and targeting is done according to the skill level of the pilot. Like other flying craft, aeroplanes have a capacity (often only the pilot or two individuals). They are subject to the weather in the same fashion as balloons and dirigibles, and will take damage in the same way.
Note that these rules are in no way intended to portray combat between aeroplanes, but rather their impact on ground combat. (Dogfighting using this system will seem, to be polite, distinctly odd, and is not recommended.)
There are no steam-powered man-packs for individual flight - that is just silly.
Martian walkers, while a major feature of the science-fiction of the era, are problematic when it comes to game play. The whole point of a Martian walker was that it was tactically invincible: it is immune to small-arms fire, almost immune to artillery, has devastating weaponry, and isn't bothered by rough terrain at all. Scenarios can certainly be devised which reflect these properties and still make good games, but the body-count on the Martians will tend toward the non-existent(!)
Martian Walkers move at the same speed as a Transport Advance Mounted. Rough terrain effects are ignored. They are capable of three shots per turn in any direction, each of which is resolved as if it was artillery fire. They are classed as targets as Transport, taking Cover in Fortifications. (Note that this makes them almost invulnerable to small-arms fire, including machineguns.) Wounds have no effect singly, but two wounds will equal a kill. A kill does not damage the walker, but merely causes it to hesitate for a turn, during which is forced to recover and may not move or fire. Martian Walkers are, however, subject to Morale checks as Elite soldiers - if they fail they have decided to leave the area. They must check morale even if only wounded. Because of their size, they do not benefit from cover (not that it matters!)
Players should feel free to invent plausible weapons to use against the Martians (I refuse to provide rules for the action of the common cold virus), or to create alien walkers which are more prone to damage. The only advice I offer is this: please try not to take it too far!
Games which involve flying machines may wish to use Weather Events. The weather is described by a general Level, and the direction of the wind is established. Wind/weather levels are as follows:
|1. Calm||Mild weather (sunny or overcast) without any wind|
|2. Light Airs||Mild weather (sunny or overcast) with a gentle breeze|
|3. Steady Breeze||Mild weather (sunny or overcast) with a breeze|
|4. High Winds/Inclement||Inclement weather with a strong breeze and occasional gusts of dangerously strong wind; command radius is reduced to 12 inches for generals and 18 inches for musicians|
|5. Gale-Force Winds/Storm||Stormy Weather with constant, dangerously high winds; command radius is reduced to 6 inches for generals and 12 inches for musicians|
The Wind/Weather Level should be established at the start of play. If a randomization mechanism is needed, roll a die and subtract 2 - the result is the current level. The Wind/Weather Level will never go above 5, nor below 1. This should be tracked throughout the game. The direction of the wind should also be determined at the start of play (use a direction die if randomization is needed.)
Once established, use the Weather Event button at the start of every turn. This will indicate if there has been a change in the direction of the wind, the Level, or both. The wind and weather will have a major effect on some flying vehicles, and so should be tracked throughout the game.
There are many details that are specified by scenario. This will include the number, quality, armament, training, and organization of figures on both sides of the conflict. Further, any assets (aeroplanes, off-board artillery, etc.) must be specified and fully described. The nature of the terrain - including what is considered hard cover as opposed to fortifications (sandbag positions are generally not sufficient to qualify as fortifications, but do provide hard cover), any areas of the board which are impassable to some or all of the figures in the game, and the exact nature of other terrain features - must be described.
Scenarios in Viktoria! are the same as they are for any other miniatures wargame - they may involve special rules or additional modifiers to the dice, so long as these are agreed by players or established by the game master before play begins.
"Patrol Mode" allows one or more players to be on a single side of a scenario, playing against forces dictated by the game app (and by scenario if desired). This is useful for solo play, as it introduces an element of the unknown into the game. It can also be a fun change from more typical tabletop battles. This section describes how the app can be used to support these types of games.
The term "patrol" is used for these games because they assume that player forces will be pro-actively crossing the battlefield to achieve some scenario objective: to scout a village on the far side of the table, to capture an enemy strong-point, etc. It is not well-suited to games where players are holding the line against an enemy attack.
To play the game in Patrol Mode, the correct mode must be selected at the top of the game app. When the game is loaded, this will be set to "CompetitivePlay Mode" - this must be changed to "Patrol Mode (Coop/Solo)". When you have selected the Patrol Mode, you will notice that the "Initiative" button in the lower right-hand part of the app interface will now be enabled for use.
The biggest difference between Competitive and Patrol modes is that in Patrol Mode all actions must be taken when permitted by the use of the Initiative button. Each turn, all of the units on the table may perform a single action, but first the player side or the non-player side (the app) must be given permission to make an action.
This is done by clicking the Initiative button. It will specify that either a single player unit or non-player unit may make an action, or it will notify you that you have spotted new enemy forces. These will be immediately placed on the table (see below) and play will continue. Even units which choose to perform no action for the turn (to Stand) must use an initiative to do so. Each unit on the table will use an initiative each turn. Unlike the Competitive Play Mode, initiative is never diced for. (While this may seem unimportant, it is how the game app tracks the game, and is vital to making the whole thing work.)
Non-player units will be played as normal by the game master. For solo play, the player and game master are the same person, obviously. For coop play, however, the game master will play the enemy. It is important that the game master understand that their role is not to beat the player, as such, but to provide a challenging and interesting game. (They will always be in a position to "win" against the players, so there is no credit in doing so - only the shame of being a poor game master if they have taken advantage of the players to crush them!)
Aside from this change to the Intiative rules, play is the same as it is for Competitive Play Mode. Enemy (non-player) forces play by the same rules that player forces do.
This system does not require specific types or sizes of enemy or player units, since these will be different for each player's collection. Instead it uses the concept of a "unit" of one of several types. It is up to players to decide what a unit will be for their game. (Typically, we use 12-24 figures for an infantry unit, 6-12 figures for a cavalry unit, a gun and 4 gunners for artillery, a machinegun and 3 crew for a machinegun, and artillery observer teams of 2 or 3 figures. Each command of 4-6 units will have a general, and might have a musician and standard-bearer in one of its infantry or cavalry units, and maybe a Medic unit.)
Player units should be at least as large as non-player units, and perhaps a couple of figures larger, depending on how much of a challenge you like. The game app will refer to the following types of units:
Infantry:This can be any type of infantry unit in the player's collection. We like to use different types for different qualities of enemy (Conscript, Soldiers, Veterans, Elite). Dismounted cavalry can also be used as infantry.
Cavalry:Mounted troops of any type (again, we like to use different cavalry types for different qualitiy levels).
Artillery/Machineguns:A gun and crew. A team of Observers for off-board artillery also act as an artillery unit for game purposes.
Headquarters:This will be 2 to 4 Officer figures. While they are very good at fighting, it is not really their job, and they will typically serve as a target to kill. They will usually try to escape.
Supply Transport:Transport units may be accompanied by a small number of guards, which will usually be Conscripts in quality. Enemy Supply Transport will be represented by a wagon, some mules, etc. and 2-6 infantry attendants. These units will always try to escape, and exist to be the targets of destruction/capture by player forces. Supply transports are always in command, as their standing orders are to move to their destination.
Non-Player Generals:A non-player general is allowed for each three enemy units on the board, and each fraction of the next three. With the appearance of the first non-player unit (other than Supply Transport, which does not count as a unit for these purposes). If there is not already an enemy general on the table per the scenario, then one will appear with the first enemy unit to do so. When a fourth enemy unit appears (counting only units still on the table), then another enemy general will also appear (and with the 7th, and 10th, and so on). Non-player units are subject to command control rules like player units, and will have to test for out of command if they have no general in range. Generals which are killed are not automatically replaced - they will only be replaced when a new enemy unit appears on the table, assuming their aren't currently enough generals. Headquarters may provide command control if needed, but are considered extra to the normal level of enemy generals which will appear on the table.
Unit Selection and Substitution:In general, it is a good idea to lay out your collection of enemy figures, and to identify what units you have and what their types are. If a needed type of unit is not available, you can substitute something else. If you have more than one unit of a needed type available, the game master can decide which to deploy, or you can simply dice for it. If you have units which are not listed (steam walkers, etc.) then these should be identified as substitutes for the valid types (i.e., you could say that Steam Walkers can be substituted for artillery, but not for other types, etc.). In general, infantry are the most common enemy type, followed by cavalry, then artillery/MGs, and then (quite rarely) by headquarters and supply transport. Players should feel free to implement whatever substitution rules are needed to make these types include the ones they want in their game. The listed types are what the game app will specify, however.
Placement of Enemy Units:When enemy units appear, the app will tell you their type, quality, and the distance and direction of their appearance. The distance will be stated in terms of a die roll in inches (e.g., "3 dice + 6 inches"). This is the minimum distance between the closest player figure and enemy figure. The direction will be given in terms of a compass reference. The points of the compass must be established before play starts (simply pick a North.)
The diagram below shows how the distance and direction function on the tabletop:
A notional "front line" should be drawn as needed as the game progresses (the red line in the diagram), behind which everything is in friendly control - this is the area which is currently in possession/control of player forces (the blue boxes above are player units). The line is drawn to connect the front of each friendly unit that is in the first line facing the enemy, with gaps between them of no more than 12 inches, and not including terrain where enemy units could hide unless friendly troops have entered (buildings, etc.) Any area passed through is assumed to be under player control unless the scenario specifies otherwise. The furthest-forward point of this line should be identified (the red dot). In case of ambiguity, the game master can decide, or it can be diced for. Use this as the center-point for determining relative compass directions. In the example shown, an enemy unit appearing to the West would be directly in front of the red dot, at the specified distance. An enemy to the North-West would appear to the front and nearer to the top of the map (etc.)
Enemy units which are specified to appear behind the front line (in the example, East or North-East) will not be placed at all. Enemy units do not show up behind friendly lines! (Of course, this can be changed by scenario, for a dash across enemy-held territory, etc.)
Units which appear on the flanks of the player forces (in the example, to the South, South-East, or to the North) will appear on the table, but using the following rule:
Identify the point on the table edge in the direction where the enemy unit is supposed to appear, and then trace back along the table edge toward enemy territory until a point outside the front line has been reached, which is at least the minimum distance specified for the unit's appearance. This will be the place where the unit appears on the tabletop, near to the edge.
Note that this rules also applies to any unit which would appear off the table: they will appear on-table, but their point of appearance my shift back toward enemy territory, causing them to appear further away from player forces.
Non-player units can appear in any formation desired, and may pull back a couple of inches to deploy in nearby terrain features. Non-players units are able to act in the turn in which they appear: they have not yet made their action for the turn, which allows them to ambush player units in some cases. The game master should use their judgement, and be more or less generous in how the enemy appear. (It is not unheard-of for an appearance to be cancelled, or for non-player units not called for by the app to appear, just to keep things interesting. The game master is the final arbiter of such matters, and there is always some room for interpretation.)
The way in which players choose to cover the tabletop will affect which enemy units do and do not show up. This is intended, and should be considered in scenario design (it becomes easier to see how this works after you have played a few games).
Patrol Mode Scenario Design:The use of the app to generate enemy forces does not preclude the specification of an enemy presence on the table in addition to those forces. It is sometimes a good idea to have a unit or two of "known" enemy on the table at the start of play, to give players a focus for their maneuvers, and to keep things interesting right from the start. Scenario designers should be cautious about having too many enemy on the table at the start of play, however, as this can make the game impossible for players to win.
One way of keeping score is to use the following guidelines:
One point for each player unit which survives the game
One additional point for each of those units which is at half-strength or above (including wounded men ordered to the rear)
One additional point for units which are relatively unscathed (no more than a quarter wounded or killed)
Two points for capturing or destroying an enemy Supply transport
Two points for each member of an enemy Headquarters captured or killed
One point for each enemy unit driven off the table (including normal enemy generals)
Points for other scenario objectives, as defined (in a game with one big objective, we usually assign 5 points)
This type of system can be used to keep a High Score tally (for solo play) or can be used to determine which player is the winner in cooperative play. If all of a player's units are destroyed, however, then they automatically lose!
As with any system for playing miniatures wargames, scenario design has a huge impact on how enjoyable the game is. The best way to learn how to design scenarios for the Patrol Mode is to play it a few times, and get a feel for how the app works. You can start with a simple scenario (clear the enemy from the table) and go from there. One hint: the distance between player starting areas and their objectives has a huge impact on how easy or difficult it is to win!
Sometimes, a line of miniatures grabs the imagination: I stumbled across Hinterland's female Husarinnen when I was searching online for a period photograph of a woman in an uhlan uniform, for an unrelated project. Once I saw the Hinterland figures, I knew two things: I was going to buy them, and I was going to write a game for them. The first order went out immediately, and others have followed. I love the sculpting (Paul Hicks does amazing work) and the figures really capture the period, for all that their subject is imaginary. In the 19th Century, women of breeding rode side-saddle when riding to hounds (and even in battle - there is at least one period painting to prove it). Although Viktoria-Luise never saw combat, the idea of a unit of female hussars in a service as conservative as the turn-of-the-century Prussian army is simply excellent. Clearly, I am not the only wargamer to think so. Viktoria! is the result.
One major benefit of computer-assisted wargaming systems is their ability to define and "roll" virtual dice in increments which are not possible with the ordinary six-sided dice used by a majority of paper-and-dice rules. When talking to people at conventions, online, and during club play, however, I realized that, for many gamers, the rolling of dice is a critically important ritual for engaging with the game. Using dice for randomization is a poor second choice when designing a computer-assisted game: it introduces a high level of distortion when compared to computerized randomization. But it is an important element in a player's immersion in the contest being simulated. It is the lack of this ritual which turns many gamers off of computer-assisted miniatures wargames. I decided to make this game use traditional 6-sided dice for randomization while still employing a computer-assisted element.
Thus, Viktoria! is an experiment in using a computer in a more limited way to assist play than that seen in most computer-assisted miniatures systems. It is interesting to see what happens, however, when you use traditional six-sided dice as your means of randomization in combination with a computer-assisted system. As the game was developed, it became clear that the computer still offers many benefits, even when using a less finely-honed randomization mechanism than that offered by the computer alone. The details are worth considering.
In an ordinary paper-and-dice game, the modifiers when rolling a six-sided die are in increments of 16.6666 (etc) percent - a pip on the die. Thus, when calculating modifiers, everything is done using a bludgeon instead of a scalpel: a change in probability of 5 percent or 10 percent is important, but it cannot be expressed easily when modifying the roll of a single, six-sided die (it can be done with a series of die rolls, of course, but this becomes rules-intensive and complex, and slows play considerably). Every time a modifier is applied, it must be done in increments of 16.66666 (etc.) percent. If I want a 10 percent modification, and I add or subtract a pip to the roll, I add a 6.6666 (etc.)-percent distortion. Each time I modify the base roll, I incrementally add to this distortion (although different modifiers may act to cancel each other out, albeit in an uncontrolled way).
Using a device or computer, however, modifiers can be whatever the designer wishes them to be, and then the result - the exact combination of all modifiers to some base probability - can be expressed in the nearest percentage which can be rendered on a six-sided die for the final roll. Thus, there is never a distortion - in total - of more than 8.33333 (etc.) percent, instead of a similar degree of distortion every time a modifier is applied to the base probability in a paper-and-dice system. What this means, of course, is that the resulting game is still more realistic as a result of using the computer, even if dice are being rolled by players to determine outcomes. The distortion is there, as with paper-and-dice systems, but it is significantly limited.
There is another benefit, and one which is less obvious. Computers can use complex algorithms - expressed, when written, as equations - when calculating the odds. Although this is done in some paper-and-dice systems, it generally turns players off. A player can be expected to divide something in half, happily, but unless you use a flow-chart of some kind (a slow and clunky mechanic, in my opinion) it is difficult to apply complex algorithms to paper-and-dice games. Even in as simple a system as Viktoria!, however, it is easy to apply algorithms because all the calculation is done by the device. What the computer replaces, in essence, is the set of rules and charts which would allow a player to perform a complex calculation. This has the effect of simplifying how the game is played, without sacrificing the ability to model combat in the fashion the game designer wishes. It doesn't slow things down.
Viktoria! is obviously not a hard-core simulation, depicting as it does wars which never took place, fought by soldiers who never took the field in anger. But this doesn't mean that it does not allow for a higher degree of "realism" (in the "what-if" way that term is understood by miniatures wargamers) when compared to paper-and-dice games. It does, even when employing six-sided dice, singly or in pairs, as its randomization mechanism.
[As an interesting aside on the "reality" of these rules' subject, the novel which started the "invasion literature" genre of the late 19th Century - The Battle of Dorking - was written as a cautionary tale by a Captain in the Royal Engineers, out of concern for what he perceived as a distinct real-world possibility - an invasion of Britain by the Prussians. (The genre is also, incidentally, seen as an important precursor to the science fiction of the era, notably H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds, set in near-by Woking.)]
More generally, Viktoria! attempts to capture some of the essence of traditional colonial wargames, but with a Victorian science-fiction/adventure flavor. Although popular, games such as In Her Majesty's Name are a different kettle of fish. They are similar to such modern fare as Warhammer 40k and the many RPGs in the way that they focus on individuals with "special" strengths, abilities, and skills. This also means that they can be played with a very small number of figures, with a great deal of attention paid to each character/figure.
Viktoria! attempts instead to depict the same type of reality in which most Victorian and Edwardian adventure fiction was set - a world where a soldier is a soldier and magic doesn't exist in everyday life. There are no steam-powered butlers with Babbage-engine brains. The use of larger numbers of figures is supported, providing a more military feel to the game. This is different from what often passes as Victorian science fiction these days (especially when labelled "steampunk," it seems). Somehow, the sense of wonder, possibility, and real-world danger that infused the original genre has been lost to some sort of exaggerated Hollywood aesthetic. If that's your cup of tea, drink up - it isn't mine. Viktoria! attempts to be something different, and, I hope, does so successfully.
By way of disclaimer, I am not aware that the opera (or movie versions of it) Viktoria and Her Hussar is in any way connected to the historical figures which the title might suggest, although it is hard to see how there could fail to be one. (If I cared more, I might try to find out!) As a casual fan of opera, I had never heard of it, and perhaps there is good reason for that.
And, on a final note, you'll notice there aren't any goddamn zombies in this game, either! (Even though Hinterland makes female hussar zombies...) Some things are not to be tolerated by gentle-persons with any pretension whatsoever to good breeding or taste.